Kanika’s Koota Niti

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In the Mahabharata Dritharashtra receives advice from Kanika, the crafty advisor which eventually provoked Dritharashtra to plan the killing of Kunti and the Pandavas in the lac house. Kanika’s advice comes under “koota niti” a niti which is employed to destroy the enemies. The actions of the kings depended on the advice they were receiving and Kanika’s crooked thinking had a disastrous consequence for both the Pandavas and Kauravas. Let us take a look at his terrible advices. 

This happens in the Sambhava parva of the Mahabharata. When the Pandavas agree to join Drona in defeating Drupada, Dritharashtra suddenly feels insecure looking at the power of the Pandavas. His mind is completely disturbed and the future of his sons looks dark. He summons Kanika and Kanika narrates the story of an intelligent (cunning) fox.

In a forest there lived a world,tiger, mouse, mongoose and fox. Once a deer which was constantly escaping the tiger, somehow was killed with the help of the mouse. The deer now was lying dead on the ground. The fox instructed the other animals to go do their ablutions while he watched over the deer. The tiger returned first and observed the fox meditating. When asked the reason, the fox said that the mouse had claimed the deer because he was the one who helped kill the deer. Hearing this, the angry tiger went away in search of the mouse to kill it. The mouse now came to the spot and the fox told that the mongoose had declared the deer to be poisoned. Scared of the poison, the mouse ran away. The wolf then came to eat. The fox said that the angry tiger would come there any moment with his wife, so he better run away. The wolf vanished from the spot. The mongoose then came. The fox calmly told the mongoose that he had defeated all others and the mongoose can take the food after defeating him. Scared of what he said, the mongoose just ran away. The fox had a sumptuous meal. Kanika said :

  • The timid should be defeated by exciting their fears, the courageous by conciliation, the covetous by gift and the inferiors by demonstration of power
  • Carefully managing their own faults, the king should keep watching for the faults of their foes and take advantage. His own weakness should be concealed like the shell of the tortoise
  • By curses and incantations, by gift of wealth, by poison, or by deception, the foe should be slain. He should never be neglected from disdain.
  • The king should never scorn his enemies. He should pretend blindness or deafness as if not being bothered about the enemies actions but strike when the time is ripe. The King should never reprove any one with indications of anger (in speech). He should speak soft words even while he is smiting! After the smiting is over, pity the victim, and grieve for him, and even shed tears but burn the house of the one who the king wishes to kill
  • spies should be placed in gardens, places of amusement, temples and other holy places, drinking halls, streets, and with the (eighteen) tirthas (viz., the minister, the chief priest, the heir-presumptive, the commander-in-chief, the gate-keeper…when the King is doing even a very cruel and terrible act, he should talk with smiles on the lips.
  • By maintaining perpetual fires by sacrifices, by matted locks and by a simple living the king should gain the confidence of the foes. Then he should spring upon them like a wolf. Acquisition of wealth even the garb of holiness might be employed as a hooked staff to bend down a branch in order to pluck the fruits that are ripe.
  • Like a fisherman who becometh prosperous by catching and killing fish, a king can never grow prosperous without tearing the vitals of his enemy and without doing some violent deeds.
  • Apply Dana : giving gifts, beda: creating divide and danda: by punishing, defeat the enemies
  • a person conversant with the rules of policy is like a tree decked with flowers but bearing no fruit; or, if bearing fruit, these must be at a great height not easily attainable from the ground; and if any of these fruits seem to be ripe care must be taken to make it appear raw. Conducting himself in such a way, he shall never fade.
  • Kings should, in the matter of destroying their foes, ever resemble razors in every particular; unpitying as these are sharp, hiding their intents as these are concealed in their leathern cases, striking when the opportunity cometh as these are used on proper occasions, sweeping off their foes with all their allies and dependants as these shave the head or the chin without leaving a single hair.
  • Their intentions should be completely hidden and should strike mercilessly when the time is ripe



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