(Last Updated on : 04-12-2010)
Superintendent of Elephants shall take proper steps to protect the elephant forests and the basic requirements of the elephants when standing in the stable. Like horses, elephants too were equally relevant and inevitable in the ancient Indian Empire as it formed a major section of their army. Due to its relevance in the battlefield, the duties of the Superintendent of Elephant have been elaborately discussed in two consecutive chapters of XXXI and XXXII of Book II in Arthashastra
. The Superintendent shall supervise the construction of a strong and protective stable for the elephants, shall organise services inside the stable as well as in the field, shall provide time and amenities for their bathing and shall look after their food and set their daily time table. Further he shall select the proper time to capture the elephants and classify them according to their specifications. Accordingly its course of training will be decided.
Superintendent of Elephant shall begin his job with the supervision of the construction of a stable which will have proper resource for drinking, bathing, eating as well as it shall have separate chambers for male, female as well as young siblings, examine the proportional amount of ration and grass, the extend of training given to them, their accoutrement and ornaments as well as the work of a doctor, the trainer in war like feats, and of the grooms like the drivers, binders and others. He shall supervise the construction of the stable in accordance with the instructions given in Arthashastra with broad space at the centre, and long in area, separate apartment for the female elephants, with projected entrances and its door facing either north or east. The space should spread over a large area so that movement of the elephants should not be problem. The space where the elephants shall sleep should be broad and preferably square and the elephants which are serviceable to war and which are required for riding should be kept inside the fort.
Superintendent of Elephant shall then specifically fix the summer season to capture the elephants which include elephant s more then the age of twenty. Infants or just born or those below twenty shall not be captured; the one which are forty in age and with seven aratin in height, eight aratin in length and ten aratin in circumference is the best. Those of thirty and twenty five in age are the lowest in quality. He shall further provide instructions regarding the ration and amount of food to be prepared for these elephants and accordingly decide a suitable training for each category of elephants.
Superintendent of Elephant as described in the chapter XXXII of Book II in Arthashastra shall classify the elephants into four main kinds according to the training given to them. This includes the elephants which are tameable; which are trained for war; which are trained for riding and which are rough in nature. Arthashastra classifies those which can be tamed are of five types which include those which suffers a man to sit on its withers (skandhagata); those which allows itself to be tethered to a post (stambhagata); those which can be taken to water (varigata); those which lies in pits (apapatagata) and that which is attached to its herd (yuthagata).Along with this there are seven types of elephants which has been trained for military purposes. Drill (upasthana); turning (samvartana); advancing (samyana); trampling down and killing (vadhavadha); fighting with other elephants (hastiyuddha); assailing forts and cities (nagarayanam), and warfare. Binding the elephants with griha, putting collars, and making them work in the company of the herds shall be a part of initial training while Arthashastra discusses seven types of training for riding. Regarding the training provided to the rough elephants not many options are provided except the use of punishment which will keep them under full control. Rest of the chapter discusses the services provided the servicemen who look after the stabled s and those of the elephant doctors, trainers ,expert riders and the grooms who attend to these elephants even during night. As mentioned in Arthashastra they shall all receive 10 palas of flesh as rewards.
Thus, superintendent of elephants shall have a number of roles to be played which is both domestic as well as military .While he shall make all efforts to make the elephants militarily well trained; at the same time he shall supervise the trainers to make the elephants equally helpful for domestic purposes.