Kautilya’s Arthashastra, Bhagavad Gita May Soon Be Part of India’s Military Training

Source: News18

A recent internal study conducted by the College of Defence Management (CDM) has recommended exploring ways of incorporating ‘relevant teachings’ from ancient Indian texts such as Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Bhagavat Gita into the current military training curriculum. The study also suggested setting up an ‘Indian Culture Study Forum’ and a dedicated faculty to research on this possibility.

Located at Secunderabad, CDM is a premier tri services military training institution, where senior officers from the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force are trained and groomed for higher defence management.

The project titled “Attributes of Ancient Indian Culture and Warfare Techniques and its incorporation in present day strategic thinking and training” was sponsored by Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff, News18.com has learnt.

Defence sources told News18 that the project was aimed at exploring select ancient Indian texts in the context of strategic thinking and leadership in the Indian Armed Forces, and set up a roadmap for adopting best practices and thoughts from them, which are relevant in current times. “This could be in the sphere of statecraft, military diplomacy, among others,” a top defence source said.

In the last few months, there has been a renewed government push towards a greater “Indianisation” of the Indian military. At the Combined Commanders Conference in Gujarat’s Kevadia in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought greater indigenisation in the national security apparatus, including in procuring military equipment as well as in the doctrines and customs of the Armed Forces.

Two different sessions on Indianisation of traditions and culture in the Armed Forces were held during the conference that went on for three days. According to a report in The Print, the defence services have subsequently been working on coming up with new indigenous military band tunes, change some pre-independence era military battle honours, putting more emphasis on Indian war heroes and indigenous works in strategic studies.

In 2016, the Army War College, Mhow, had also published a combat paper, which drew instances from the Mahabharata and Arthashastra and stated that the strategic thoughts and art of war found in the texts were also relevant in today’s context as well. News18.com has accessed the paper.

What Are the Recommendations?

The CDM study, as per sources, focused on ancient Indian texts Arthashastra and Bhagavat Gita and Thirukkural in the modern context of strategic thinking, leadership, statecraft and warfare.

For instance, it calls Kautilya’s Arthashashtra a “treasure trove” for the Armed Forces and states that it is relevant in the current context and contains lessons for a foot soldier to a general officer in the Armed Forces.

The three texts, it stated, is relevant in the current scenario with respect to leadership, warfare and strategic thinking.

The study recommended setting up an Indian Culture Study Forum on the lines of those existing in Pakistan and China. It said an Indian Culture Club should be set up, which would offer access to available research material on ancient Indian texts and the available online repository as well as organise panel discussions and guest lectures on the relevant topics.

It has also recommended that there should be a dedicated faculty headed by Commandant CDM, which will research on ancient Indian texts and culture.

It further recommended that a study on ancient texts and treatise such as Manusmriti, Nitisara and Mahabharata should be carried out for two years, as well as organising workshops and annual seminars on ancient Indian culture and its lessons for the Armed Forces.

It stated that that the long term objective should be to make CDM the Centre for Excellence in Indian Cultural Studies.

It has also suggested involving religious teachers in the Armed Forces be engaged in the study of the ancient texts and draw out relevant lessons from them for the Armed Forces.

The study says that there is a need to incorporate these ancient Indian texts into the training curriculum of military institutions through an “institutionalised framework.”


  • Shantanu K. Bansal

    Founder of IADN. He has more than 10 years of experience in research and analysis. An award winning researcher, he writes for the leading defence and security journals, think-tanks and in-service publications. He is a senior consultant at the Indian Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla. Contact him at: Shantanukbansal2@gmail.com

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