By Swami Harshananda
Kaṇtakaśodhana literally means ‘searching and punishing evil persons’.
‘Kaṇṭaka’ literally means a ‘thorn’ and figuratively denotes a ‘harmful person’. A ruler has to organize a set of good spies who can not only find out but also catch the culprits red-handed. These culprits plot against the people and against the nation. Such an act was known as ‘kaṇtakaśodhana’.
Running a kingdom is a challenging task. A king has to look at the management side not only from the positive angle, but also from the negative angle. ‘Kaṇṭaka-śodhana’ belongs to the negative aspect.
The espionage system described and prescribed by Kautilya was quite elaborate and almost fool-proof.
Aspects of Kaṇtakaśodhana
The items listed under ‘kaṇṭakaśodhana’ by the Arthaśāstra include:
- Whether the artisans working in the guilds were maintaining the quality of the work and giving the finished articles on time
- Whether the weights and measures used by the traders were genuine and standard
- Whether the traders, workers and manufacturers were maintaining the standards set for them for selling unadulterated things
- Whether the government officers were taking bribes or cheating the State
- Whether the doctors were treating their patients as per the ethics of medical science
- Section 4 of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya 300 B. C.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore