(Last Updated on : 20/11/2010)
Institutions of Spies is one of the chapters in Concerning Discipline, Book I of Arthashastra. The spy system was an integral part of the Administration of Mauryan Empire. It was a period when the administration largely depended on the semi administrative methods like the spy system which was though declared and known to all yet remained an informal system of administration which went along with the usual functioning of the government.
Institution of Spies is a wide network established by the king on the advice of council of ministers. Along with the creation of a strong network of an espionage system the king is then advised to create a wide network of spies which would include men and women from all sections society and will be engaged in various professions in order to keep a thorough knowledge of the entire kingdom and enamouring kingdoms as well. The spies may vary from a fraudulent disciple, a recluse, a householder, a merchant, an ascetic preaching austerity, a classmate, a colleague fire brand, a prisoner or mendicant women.
Institution of Spies then proceeds to describe each separately when in case of a fraudulent disciple he is obliged to inform the king as well as the minister regarding what mischief he could essence around his kingdom. As an ascetic who is supposed to be pure in character is actually a recluse. This spy provided with much money and property will be able to cultivate his land allotted to him and will provide food and shelter to huge number of his disciples and send them for espionage under his protection with an order to detect a particular crime committed in connection with king's wealth and inform him whenever they return to collect their share of profit. All such ascetics are supposed to send their followers to every corner of the kingdom and outside the kingdom as well.
Institution of Spies then include the other types of spies which include the cultivators who have fallen from his business but possess foresight and is pure in character will be included as householder spy who shall continue cultivating his own land as before. Also a trader who has fallen from his possession but bears the same criteria will be included as a spy for the state. The spy shall carry on with the manufacture of merchandise on lands allotted to him for the purpose. This further includes the persons having shaven heads who pretend to be ascetics preaching austerity. Such a spy often surrounded by disciples often take a rescue in the suburban areas among those people who live from hand to mouth and can hardly provide any gifts to the ascetic. Often the group of merchants become his disciple which helps them to circulate information. The ascetic can also utilise his power by making predictions like an astrologer according to which his disciples would direct their affairs in conformity. As such he may grant rewards to some while declare secret punishment to others. Overall these five institutes of espionage who are honoured with rewards of money and titles by the king are supposed to be pure in character and protect king's pride at any cost.
Institution of Spies then advises the king to create new type of wandering spies which includes orphans, poor widows, brave desperados, women of Sudra caste, poisoners, fiery spies, classmate spies mendicant women, immediate officers of institute of espionage and the hump-backed, dwarf, eunuch, the women with accomplishment, the dump and various grades of Mlechcha caste shall be the spies inside the house. The orphans who are fed by the state and who are send for study of various religious texts and religious life structure can be utilised as spies for the state. Similarly the women of Sudra caste, poor widows of the old Brahmans who are clever enough to serve the purpose, the ascetic women who have easy access to the king's prime minister can be utilised for the purpose. This also includes the brave desperados who are reckless of their lives and can confront animals, tigers, elephants and can wander any where in the country. These men can get easy access to any information while wandering. The structure of spies also includes those who belong to god family background and are accomplished in many co- curricular activities
Institution of Spies then specifies that all the spies will report to the institute of espionages and those who work as servant to the king will draw their salaried along with the king. Thus, Institution of Spies had been one of the vital functionaries of the state.