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The Coinage System in the Arthaśāstra and Commentarial Strategies in the Cāṇakyaṭīkā by Bhikṣu Prabhamati: Issues on the Textual Authority of Manu's Code


The Cāṇakyaṭīkā by Bhikṣu Prabhamati is a Sanskrit commentary on the Arthaśāstra (1st– 3rd century ce), the most celebrated Sanskrit text on governance. The Cāṇakyaṭīkā has not yet been fully studied nor translated into English. This paper presents the first English translation and analysis of the passages in which Prabhamati comments upon the activities of the “superintendent of the mint” (lakṣaṇādhyakṣa) and of the “examiner of coins” (rūpadarśaka). His exposition on Arthaśāstra 2.12.24–25 provides an interesting example of what can be defined as a “textual variation”; by means of commentarial techniques and literary devices the author stretches the structure of the root-text. On the basis of a broad analysis, this research demonstrates that the commentator quotes a passage on the coinage system from an unnamed source which, I shall argue, is the authoritative treatise on law Mānava Dharmaśāstra (2nd – 3rd century ce). This represents further evidence of the relationship between the Arthaśāstra and Manu's code. Finally, I shall suggest Bhikṣu Prabhamati's date and place of origin.

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P. Olivelle , King, Governance and Law in Ancient India: Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra (Oxford, 2013)

M. McClish , ‘The Dependence of Manu's Seventh Chapter on Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra,’ Journal of the American Oriental Society 134, 2 (2014), pp. 241262

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J. Bronkhorst , Buddhism in the shadow of Brahmanism (Leiden, 2011)

T. Lubin , ‘Review of Two commentaries on the Arthaśāstra: Jayamaṅgalā and Cāṇakyaṭīkā, critically re-edited from G. Harihara Sastri's Fascicle Editions, by Andrea Pohlus, (Halle, 2011),’ Indo-Iranian Journal 57 (2014)

P. C. Prasad , Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India (New Delhi, 1977)

E. Freschi , ‘The Reuse of Texts in Indian Philosophy: Introduction,’ Journal of Indian Philosophy 43, 2–3 (2105), pp. 85108

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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • ISSN: 1356-1863
  • EISSN: 1474-0591
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-royal-asiatic-society
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