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SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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Nitishastras & Subhashitas

Nitishastras & Subhashitas

Politics in its broadest sense is called Nitishastra, 'welfare lore', and covers political science and economics in all their practical aspects.. The term embraces the study of niti, `conduct' or political ethics; ethics and moral behaviour; administration and state welfare; vartta, 'livelihood', or economics; trade and commerce; agriculture and cattle-breeding; artha 'wealth' or profit; raja-niti 'king-craft' and the laws governing kingship, pranayana, 'establishing' or administration, also called danda-niti, 'rod policy', since force of coercion was an important aspect of government.

The outstanding work on Hindu politics is the overtly cynical Arthashastra of Kautilya. The Nitisara, essence of politics by Kamandaka contains an exhaustive list of maxims of use to all classes from princes to peasants written in the kavya style. The Nitishastra, `Treatise on politics' is attributed to the Vedic age Shukra, the tribal priest of the asuras. Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha were originally intended as manuals for the instruction of kings in domestic and foreign policy, they belong to the class of literature which the Hindu call niti shastra or "science of political ethics."

The most important are the two collections by the highly-gifted Bhartarihari, entitled respectively Niti Shataka or "century of conduct," and Vairagya Shataka or "century of Renunciation," and Chanakya Shataka, the "centuries of Chanakya," by Chanakya. The reputed author of which was famous in India as a master of diplomacy. The Niti-manjari, or "cluster of blossoms of conduct," is a collection of peculiar kind. The moral maxims which it contains are illustrated by stories, and these are taken exclusively from the Rigveda.