Arthashastra is thus, the art of governance in its widest sense. The subjects covered include administration, law and order, taxation, revenue, foreign policy, defence, war. Kautilya was not the originator of the science. He acknowledges that it is based on similar treatise of the past. There are believed to be thirteen individual teachers of Artha before Kautilya.
His name was Vishnugupta. He is believed to be from Kerala or a North Indian who was born and educated in the university town of Taxila. A knowledgeable person, he landed up in the court of the Magadha (in Bihar) king Dhana-Nanda to display his knowledge. Humiliated by the King, he vowed not to tie his forelock knot again until he had destroyed the Nanda dynasty. While searching for a person who would help him achieve his objective, he came upon Chandragupta, took to him to Takshila and gave him education fit for a future king.
What Chandragupta was doing earlier was to try and capture the interior areas. After capturing one area he would go for another but would .Face in a revolt in the area previously captured. So, when you have to capture, go step by step, take the outer areas first, establish physical control, that was your opponents have to keep on moving inland, keep up the pressure and they have to succumb.
Kautilya and Chandragupta changed their strategy and began attacking from till frontiers till they converged on Pataliputra, defeated the Nanda king and installed Chandragupta as king.
Arthashastra broadly covers fourteen areas. One deals with the King – his training, appointments of minister etc. Two describes the duties of various officers of the state and gives a complete picture of the states activities. Three is concerned with law and administration of justice. Four is on suppression of crimes. Five is a sundry collection of topics including salaries of officials. Six is on foreign policy and constituent elements of state. Seven is an exhaustive discussion on the way in which each of the six methods of foreign policy may be used in various situations.
Eight relates to calamities. Nine is on preparations of war. Ten is concerned with fighting and types of battle arrays. Eleven is on how must a conqueror deal with a number of chiefs rather than one king. Twelve shows how a weak king when threatened by a stronger one must overpower him. Thirteen is concerned with the conquest of the enemy’s fort by fighting. Fourteen deals with occult practices.