The Dependence of Manu’s Seventh Chapter on Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra

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Mark McClish



Indeterminacy in dating and elusive modes of intertextuality often confound attempts to establish reliable relative chronologies for classical South Asian texts. Occasionally, however, the relationship between two texts clearly reveals the dependence of one upon the other. Such is the case for the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya and the Mānava Dharmaśāstra, arguably the two most important classical treaties on law and statecraft. Close reading of the two reveals a direct relationship wherein the seventh adhyāya (“chapter”) of the Mānava Dharmaśāstra took its general structure and most of its material from the Arthaśāstra.The clarification of this general relationship makes possible an appreciation of the manner in which Manu appropriated material from Kauṭilya’s treatise and allows us to draw new conclusions and raise new questions about the intellectual and cultural history of the period.

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