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Protection of Nature and Environment in Arthashastra of Kautilya

Arthashastra is a handbook for running an empire, written by Kautilya (also known as Chanakya, c. 350-275 BCE) an ancient Hindu statesman and philosopher, chief advisor of Emperor Chandragupta. Kautilya regarded the protection of nature and environment as an essential part of state administration.

He advised the king to protect his kingdom from various kinds of environmental problems like fire, flood, pestilential diseases, famine, etc.

He suggested punishment to those who polluted the environment by way of throwing dirt on roads, causing mire or water to collect in a street, or relieving themselves in public places, pilgrimage centers, royal or temple premises or near water reservoirs.

Severe punishments were laid down for those who destroyed or disturbed plant or animal life.

He held that it was the duty of a king to maintain various kinds of forests in his kingdom.

Reserved forests were to be rendered free of all dangers of destruction and human exploitation. They were meant to supply all kinds of produce required for the kingdom.

He suggested that forests should also be reserved for rearing elephants for royal use and for the sport of the public.

Bibliography – Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IV – page 8 – 9