Thursday, April 05, 2007

book review: Kautilya for the 21st century

apr 5, 2007

arthasastra should be made compulsory reading in all high schools to prepare indians for the real world.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yash
Kautilya for the 21st century
By M.V. Kamath
Relevance of Kautilya for Today: Dr K.S. Narayanacharya;
Preface by S. Gurumurthy;
Kautilya Institute of National Studies, Mysore
One of the saddest aspects of our educational system today is the near total neglect of our ancient history and the deliberate disconnect with our thinkers and philosophers. It is as if our "secular" scholars are ashamed of their own past. Vedic mathematics is laughed at. If authentic claims are made that such concepts as gravitation and the value of pi were common knowledge centuries ago eyebrows are raised. Kalidas, Panini, Bhasa, Bana, Varahamihira and Bhartrahari remain faint memories.

Ask any present day graduate whether he has heard of Charaka, Sushruta, Bhaskaracharya or Lilavati, one can only expect blank looks. It is seldom realised that even in the Ramayana and Mahabharata there are innumerable references to technology, arts, sports, music, dance, architecture, weaponry, defence, textiles, navigation and metallurgy. In which other country in the world would one come across the existence of the kind of iron pillar that one finds in India close to the Qutub Minar? In its own way India excelled in many fields including—and that should not come as a surprise—politics and governance. Forget Bhishmaparva in the Mahabharata, think of Chanakya also known as Kautilya, much closer to our times and the Arthashastra for which he is justly known. And we get a wholly new introduction not only to what makes true Indian culture, but how it ruled India in ancient times. The stress was not on religion but on dharma, that elusive word which lays down what is right. In ancient Indian civilisation, on the accepted principles of war morality, of war ethics, a king could not wage a war against another simply because he had a large army.