(Last Updated on : 20/11/2010)
Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress which forms book XIII of Arthashastra advises the king to make all efforts to win over enemy's army and sow the seeds of dissension so that they remain divided within themselves. Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress, as such, marks out some ways through which the king can proceed. This includes methods like sowing the seeds of dissension; enticement of kings by secret contrivances; the work of spies in a siege; the operation of a siege; restoration of peace in a conquered country. The book deals extensively with the role played by the spies according to whose information the king takes for further decisions.
Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress begins with the chapter regarding the methods of sowing the seeds of dissension. For this the king can terrorise the enemy's army by publicizing his power of omniscience and his closeness to the god. By the method of proclamation of omniscience the book mainly refers to rejection of his chief officers when their secret, domestic and other private affairs are known; revealing the names of traitors after receiving information from spies specially employed to find out such men; pointing out the impolitic aspect of any course of action suggested to him and pretensions to the knowledge of foreign affairs by means of his power to read omens and signs invisible to others when information about foreign affairs is just received through a domestic pigeon which brings a sealed letter.
Strategic means of capturing in its following chapters describes the role of the conqueror's chief messenger who pretends to be friendly to the enemy's army and talks highly of the conqueror's goodness, his respectful behaviour towards the visitors, the strength of his army and likelihood of impending destruction of his enemies' army. They also inform the opposition's army about the equal behaviour of their masters towards the soldiers as well as ministers. All this are meant to win over the confidence of the enemy soldiers which will help the king to capture the fortress.
Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress further includes the method of enticing a king by secret contrivance. This mainly talks of the role of ascetics and spies in particular who pretend to know more than a common man. The wide networks of spies also play a crucial role in collecting the secret information about the enemy. Spies may come in disguise of merchant or Nagas to attract the king and bring him in public to kill him .It further makes a mention of a number of methods with which the king can be brought in the crowd and can be made to face adverse fatal conditions.
Besides these, Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress includes the role of the work of the spies in siege. Regarding the work of spies in siege includes the role played by the ministers and the chiefs dismissed from confidential posts may resolve to the enemy area and meet them as friends. During this time he may conquer the enemy to conquer the surrounding areas on his behalf.
Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress then proceeds further towards the operation of a siege which includes the administration of the conquered areas. According to Kautilya
it remains very important that the conquered area should be kept in complete peace so that the area should never resolve to rebellion and even if then it rewards should be bestowed to the area which will keep them appeased. This explains the treatment of the conquered enemy or the wild chiefs. Specifically this chapter explains that when the forts are captured and trade destroyed then it is the responsibility if the conquered chief to see to the convenience of the people living in these areas. Arthashastra
reclaims that the ultimate responsibility of a conqueror is to restore peace in the areas which he captured without which his reign will continue to remain unstable.
Thus, Strategic Means to Capture a Fortress is one of the vital steps which take place at the end of a war. It is one of the vital steps taken in order to check the periphery of the kingdom so the war does not recur again.