Kautilya Theory of Saptanga

Kautilya Theory of Saptanga

According to Kautilya, a state has seven elements or constituents, namely, Swamin— the King, Amatya—the Minister, Janapada—the Land, and the People, Durga—the Fortress, Kosha—the Treasury, Danda—the Army and Mitra—the Allies. This entire set-up of the kingdom was described as Saptanga theory in ancient India.

The Swamin refers to the king, regarded as the indispensable, integral and inseparable part of the state in ancient India. King in all cases belonged to the noble and royal family who possessed qualities of both head and heart. Amatya or the minister refers to all the officials involved in the functioning of the government. It is their responsibility to ensure that the government runs smoothly. Janapada implies the land and the people and, according to Kautilya, must be fertile.

The term ‘Durga’ in the ancient India means fort, which is considered an extremely important element. Usually, forts were constructed on the borders of the territory. Kautilya, in fact, divided these forts into water, hill, desert and forest forts. The fifth element is Kosha or the treasury. Kautilya opined that a king must amass wealth to promote the welfare of the people and also maintain his army.

Danda referred to the armed forces to protect the state from aggres­sions and maintain law and order within the state. Kautilya suggested that it is the responsibility of the king to see that his army is content with its role in the state. Finally, Mitra refers to a friend or allies.

A king must have certain dependable friends who help him in all calamities. A king’s immediate neighbour becomes an enemy and an enemy’s enemy becomes a friend of the king. The Saptanga theory was, in fact, famous all through the ancient period.

The state was regarded as a physical organism and its elements as the parts of the body. It was stated that king was considered the head, ministers as the eyes, and treasury as the face, army as the mind, fort as the hands and country as a whole as the legs of the human body.

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