Arthashastra and Manusmriti have been a milestone of ancient Indian Literature. They are often cited as a reference for multiple economical, political and religious reasons.

Arthshastra and Manusmriti – What are these?

The Manu-Smriti is the work on the sacred law i.e. Dharma of ancient India and the Arthashastra of Kautilya(Chanakya) is among the manuals of the polity.

What do you mean by Arthashastra?

Arthashastra is a title book given by Kautilya, also known as Chanakya. Chanakya was a philosopher, statesman, chief advisor, and Prime Minister of the Indian Emperor Chandragupta.

“Arthashastra” is a Sanskrit word that originally means The Science of Material Gain, Science of Politics or Science of Political Economy. This book is all about running an empire and was written in 350-275 BCE. Arthashastra summarizes the political thoughts of Kautilya.

It contains detailed information about specific topics that are relevant for rulers who wish to run an effective government, diplomacy and ancient Indian warfare. Arthashastra also includes other things such as law, prisons, taxation, irrigation, agriculture, mining, fortifications, coinage, manufacturing, trade, administrations, diplomacy, and spies.

What do you mean by Manusmiriti?

The word Manu smriti means the laws of Manu. The Manusmriti prescribes to Hindus their religion i.e. dharma(sacred law). It deals with cosmology.
Manusmiriti contains 12 chapters of stanzas. It includes various aspects such as:

  1. Marriage
  2. Hospitality
  3. Funeral rites
  4. Dietary restrictions
  5. Pollution, and means of purification
  6. The conduct of women and wives
  7. The law of kings.

This text makes no distinction between religious law and sacred law.
Justification of the caste system was found in Manu smriti and it also influences all aspects of Hindu’s thoughts.

Comparison between Arthashastra and Manusmriti

Manu and Kautilya had both given us their political and administrative ideas and policies.

Manu and Kautalya (Chanakya) - Arthashastra and Manusmriti

Arthshastra – The book Arthshastra has a broader scope. It is the science of politics. It includes almost every aspect, not only religion.

Manusmiriti – Manusmriti includes only religious laws and customs, not included other aspects it is a narrow concept than Arthshastra.

Arthashastra – It is an ancient Indian treatise on, economic policy military strategy, statecraft, dealing with the enemy and internal justice.

Manusmiriti – It is the earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism.

Arthashastra -The Artha-sastra of Kauṭilya is a prose work in fifteen Books comprising 6,000 units (ślokas) of 32 syllables each in length.

Manusmiriti – The Manu-Smriti is a metrical work of 2,685 verses, though a few versions include some more.

Arthashastra – It is an ancient political thought, which was probably composed between 3rd-2nd Century B.C.

Manusmiriti – It holds a position of pre-eminence in the Hindu literature. It is the oldest and well-known smriti.

Arthashastra – It is the smooth running of administration and for the welfare of the people. Its Law was hierarchical in nature.

Manusmiriti – It was Manu who gave the stamp of sanctity and permanence to the socio-political institutions of the land and provided the first code of civil and criminal law.

Both Manu and Kautilya talk about seven limbs.

In Arthashastra 

Kautilya put the seven elements in proper order

1. The king,
2. The minister,
3. The country
4. The fort,
5. The treasury,
6. The army,
7. The friend.

Here Kautliya changed the previous order and add one more element that is enemy.

8. The enemy

In Manusmiriti 

The seven elements of Prakriti were

1. The king,
2. The ministers,
3. The capital,
4. The kingdom,
5. The treasury,
6. The army
7. The ally.
It was clearly implied in the inter-relationship, believed to subsist between the seven limbs or angas of the state i.e. the Saptanga theory.

It is believed that all previous parts were related to one another. If one part goes missing then that will create a disturbance in work.

Arthashastra – Kautilya’s king was a territorial ruler.

Manusmiriti – Manu’s king was more than a tribal chief.

Here, Manu’s king was not that powerful to conquer the world but Kautliyas king’s aim was to conquer the world.
From this, we can see that Arthashastra is the book that tells about the large territory and modern concept than that of Manu smriti.

Sacred law or state law

Arthashastra – Kautilya stressed greater importance to state law than sacred law.

Manusmriti – Manu laid stress on sacred law.
By this, we can see that Artha shastra is way ahead to Manu smriti, because he separates the state from religion.
He maintained that wherever sacred law was in conflict with rational law, it was the reason which had to be accepted as authoritative.


Manu and Kautilya both agreed upon the importance of the ministers but they differ from the number of ministers.

Arthashastra – Kautilya said that number of the ministers should differ from state to state vary according to the needs of the state.

Manusmiriti – Manu said that there should be 12 ministers.

Importance of Vedas according to Manu and Kautilya.

Arthashastra – Kautilya did not give supreme authority to Vedas but according to Kautilya, it was not Trayi but Anvikshaki, the science that kept the mind steady and firm excellence of foresight, speech, and action, which was more important than Vedas.

Manusmiriti – Manu give supreme authority to the Vedas.

Arthashastra – Kautilya’s main concern was with wealth because it was wealth alone which could lay sure and solid foundations for the state.

Manusmriti – Manu was mainly concerned with the ethical code of conduct.

Kautilya’s state was more power and strength-oriented than that of Manu. On the whole, Kautilya was more rational and practical and realistic than Manu.


Arthashastra – In Arthshastra, Kautilya discusses problems that are more realistic such as battles, war, the conduct of government departments, internal and external dangers to the state. relied on the merit system.

Manusmiriti – Manu discussed problems that are not much serious, such as problems like the duties of different Varnas, the purity of family life, sanctity of social institutions, and maintenance of the many regulations for personal and social life laid down in the Dharmashastras.

Matter of justice

In their time’s cases were non-payment of debts, sale without ownership, partnership deeds, deposits and pledging, non-payment of wages, breach of agreements, disputes related to assault, defamation, robbery, violence adultery, etc.

Arthashastra – Arthashastra it analyses each and every corner of dispute which is more practical than Manu. Kautilya gives privilege to the caste system but still, he was more considerate for lower castes than his predecessors.

Manusmirti – Manu’s idea of justice was more philosophical than Kautilya the rules and dictums of Manu were based on the interests of Varnasramadharma.

Manu was more rigorous than Kautilya in comparison.


So, this was a small comparison of Arthsshastra and Manusmriti. We hope that you liked the information that we have provided in this article. Stay connected with BloggerBunny for more such awesome content. Meanwhile, visit – A Happy and Healthy Lifestyle: YOGA