The Kautiliya Arthasastra is the oldest and most exhaustive treatise on the governance and administration of a state. Starting with the bringing up and education of the young prince, it proceeds to the appointment of ministers and the organisation and functioning of various state departments, including the setting up of a secret service. It then sets forth a code of civil and criminal law. In the matter of foreign relations, it puts before the ruler the ideal of a vijigisu (would-be world conqueror) and discusses in great detail the various situations he may have to face in his dealings with foreign states, whether friendly or inimical, and points out how he should conduct himself in every case so as to achieve his goal. The present edition comprises three parts.
Part I is a new critical edition of the text based on all manuscript evidence available so far as well as on portions of ancient commentaries that have been published. It also takes into account the new commentary on the entire text by T. Ganapati Sastri.
Part II is a new English translation of the text; the critical and explanatory notes consider the various readings in the text as well as the different interpretations found in the commentaries or offered by modern scholars.
Part III is a study of the text and deals with all problems that are likely to arise in connection with its study, such as the origin of the Arthasastra as a science, the authorship and date of the work, social conditions reflected in it, the economy of the state visualised in it, the administrative setup recommended, law and its administration, foreign policy and so on. It also attempts an assessment of its importance and relevance in modern times.
R. P. Kangle taught Sanskrit for over thirty years in Government colleges in Gujarat and Maharashtra (old Bombay Presidency) and retired as Professor of Sanskrit from the Elphinstone College, Bombay in 1954. The three-part work on the Kautiliya Arthasastra was published by the University of Bombay between 1961 and 1965. Other publications to his name are in Marathi: The Plays of Kalidasa, Ancient Indian Political Science, Ancient Poetics, Marathi translations of the Kautiliya Arthasastra, etc.