Geopolitical Scientists of Ancient India

In the modern world the term Geopolitics was first coined by Rudolf Kjellén, a Swedish political scientist, at the beginning of the 20th century. The doctrine of Geopolitics gained attention largely through the work of Sir Halford Mackinder in England and his formulation of the Heartland Theory (World Island, Rimland and Periphery) in 1904. According to his theory the world was divided into three regions – Heartland (the secure part of the world consisting of large parts of Russia, Northern parts of China, Eastern parts of Europe, Mangolia) which was seemingly secure and had potential to prosper due to cushion provided by the rimland (the second part of the world consisting mainly of regions of India, Southern and Eastern parts of China, Sahara Desert, large parts of Western Europe) which were more prone to attackers from the sea-side and the peripheral world, which consisted mainly of large parts of Africa, Australia, US continent and numerous island countries of far east which were likely to be in most turmoil to be able to prosper. Today although the situation is very different and world geopolitical view is very different.

Ancient India had its own great geopolitical scientists. One most astonishing example seems to be that of Chanakya, (3rd century BC), the great teacher, a great politician and a person who really had a great regional view if not the world view of that time. His geopolitical understanding of the time was very deep which helped him to get to the job of uniting a number of independent states on the Indian continent and around. Without an understanding of risks involved with fighting the foreign invaders with a united power, he could not have achieved was he could achieve in his life time. His geopolitical understanding of the time was remarkable given the lack of communication, education, infrastructure of his time.

Originally a teacher at the ancient Takshashila University, Chanakya managed the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta’s rise to power at a young age. He is widely credited for having played an important role in the establishment of the Maurya Empire, which was the first empire in the archaeologically recorded history to rule most of the Indian subcontinent. Chanakya served as the chief advisor to both Chandragupta and his son Bindusara.

Chanakya is traditionally identified as Kautilya or Vishnu Gupta, who authored the ancient Indian political treatise called Arthaśāstra. As such, he is considered as the pioneer of the field of economics and political science in India, and his work is thought of as an important precursor to Classical Economics.Chanakya’s works predate Machiavelli’s by about 1,800 years. His works were lost near the end of the Gupta dynasty and not rediscovered until 1915.

Two books are attributed to Chanakya: Arthashastra and Neetishastra (also known as Chanakya Niti).

The Arthashastra discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail. The text also outlines the duties of a ruler.Some scholars believe that Arthashastra is actually a compilation of a number of earlier texts written by various authors, and Chanakya might have been one of these authors.

Neetishastra is a treatise on the ideal way of life, and shows Chanakya’s deep study of the Indian way of life. Chanakya also developed Neeti-Sutras (aphorisms – pithy sentences) that tell people how they should behave. Of these well-known 455 sutras, about 216 refer to raja-neeti (the dos and don’ts of running a kingdom). Apparently, Chanakya used these sutras to groom Chandragupta and other selected disciples in the art of ruling a kingdom.

Other works of ancient India geopolitical scientists are attributed to the development of Vedas and Puranas, mostly geopolitical accounts of ancient India political situations of as far as 2500 BC India. Although most of the Geopolitical accounts of ancient India have debatable accounts and sources of information is limited, they give a glimpse of prowess of great Indian geopolitical scientists and thinkers.

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