The packed schedule of a Rajan

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We read news articles on how leaders have a tight schedule packed with activities with no time for sleep or rest. While we know about contemporary leaders, we know very little about the schedule of rajan’s of those times. The popular portrayal is that kings lived a lavish life where every aspect was automatically taken care of and spent their time in entertainment and enjoyment. Kautilya’s arthashastra gives us insights on the daily schedule of a Rajan and how the Rajan was trained from childhood to take up this huge responsibility. We have used “Aspects of Ancient Indian Polity” by Shri. Narendranath Law as reference.

Daily Schedule of a Rajan

6 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. is devoted to looking after the defence of the country and the supervision of the finances
7.30 to 9 to the supervision of the affairs of the townspeople and provincials ;
9 to 10-30 to ablution, dining, and study
10.30 to 12 to the collection of State dues from the heads of the departments (Adhyaksas) ;
12 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. to correspondence with absent ministers
1.30 to 3 to amusements or self-deliberation ;
3 to 4.30 to the inspection of elephants, horses, chariots, and infantry ;
4.30 to 6 to consultation with the commander-in chief and evening prayers at nightfall
6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. to interview with the secret agents ;
7.30 to 9 to ablution, supper, and study
9 to 1.30 a.m. to entering the bedchamber amid sounds of trumpets, and sleep ;
1.30 to 3 to waking amid trumpet-sounds and calling to mind the Sastric injunctions and the duties of the ensuing day ;
3 to 4.30 to convening the council and sending out secret agents on their errands ;
4.30 to 6 to receiving benedictions in the company of his tutors, and domestic and sacrificial priests, interview with the physician, headcook, and astrologer, and entering the court after perambulating a cow with her calf, and a bull.


Education of the Rajan

There was strong emphasis on competence and hence training began right from the womb. Prince’s took charge of the kingdom at a very young age and hence everyday of their childhood and youth was extremely regulated. The educational process and the elders at home took care that the prince learnt all the nuances of governance yet did not miss out on the fun of childhood. So what was their education like?

  • At age 3, they were taught writing and arithmetic
  • After the sacred thread ceremony, at the age of 11, they were taught the four branches of knowledge namely: anviksiki, trayi, varta, and dandaniti.:  Logic, Vedic Theology, Economics and Politics
  • Eminent scholars visited the kingdom and taught various subjects of theory and practice
  • Courses on Military: Horse riding, Elephant Riding, Handling various weapons
  • During Brahmacharya: Forenoon was spent on military exercises and afternoons on listening to Ithihasas (History). The rest of the day was spent on revising old portions and learning new ones

His education lasted for 16 years after which he enters into next phase of life namely marriage. He is then crowned and takes care of the operational aspects of the kingdom where he comes in contact with various people in governance. He is first an apprentice, then the commander of the army and then he becomes the Rajan.

The success of a well-educated and self-controlled sovereign is thus indicated by Kautilya:

Vidyavinlto raja hi prajanam vinaye ratah,

 Ananyam prthivim bhuiikte sarvabhutahite ratah.

(A king, well disciplined by education and bent on his subjects’ government and the good of all living beings, can enjoy the whole earth without a rival.


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