One Minister Cabinet 2700 years ago, Panini Titbits-2 (Post No.9535)


Post No. 9535

Date uploaded in London – –26 APRIL  2021     

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Panini in his grammar book Ashtadhyayi gives remarkably interesting information about cabinet formation in the government.

He used ASHADAKSHIINA, which literally meant “that which is not seen by six eyes. The Kasika (Kaasikaa) explains it to mean deliberations between two persons only and not more.

“Ashadakshiino mantras, yo dvaabhyaameva kriyate, na bahubhih”

In the political evolution of the Mantri Parishad and with the emergence of the office of the Prime Minister there was a tendency to form a smaller body inside the Parishad/council for more effective and responsible deliberation.

As to the number of ministers constituting this Inner Body, Kautilya supplies valuable information recording the views of earlier political thinkers like



Visalaksha and


Kautilya states that the number of ministers should three to four (Arthasastra 1-15)

In this matter the most forceful view was that of Kaninka Bharadvaja, the severe theorist who advocated the system of one minister cabinet

“Gubhyam eko mantrayetiti Bhaardvaajah Arthasastra 1-15”

This was the ashadakshiina mantra referred to by Panini,i.e.the secret counsel of the king and the chief minister only, in which Six Eyes had not participated. It signified the same thing as

“Shad karno bhidyate mantrah of later literature”

Bharadvaja held that a plethora of councillors betrayed the secret.

“Mantri paramparaa mantram bhinnati, Artha 1-15”

Cited in the Kasika on 5-2-10

This view was disputed by Visaalaaksha, who perhaps true to the veiled suggestion of his name, was in favour of admitting more ministers to that secret sessions of the council.

The Six Eye must have related to urgent and important matters of the state. Panini refers to Aatyayika Vinayadi gana 5-4-34, urgent business, to which Asoka also refers in Rock Edict 6 and so also Kautilya.

Summoning the ministers and the council, the king shall speak to them on urgent matters,

“Aatyayike kaarye mantrino mantri parishadam chaahuuya bruuyaat, Arth 1-15”

Here ‘mantrinah’ refers to the Inner Cabinet, and ‘Mantri Parishad’ to the fuller Council of Ministers.

The No Six Eyes deliberations belonged to the former.

Similarly, in the Gana patha 4-3-118 ,an act or resolution of the Parishad is called ‘Paarishatka’

All these show how advanced was our political system 2700 years ago


500 members in Raaja Sabhaa

As distinguished from the Parishad, the General Assembly was represented by the Raaja Sabhaa. Tradition makes King Bindusara having a Council of 500 members.

As examples of Raja Sabha, Patanjali cites Chandragupta Maurya Sabha and Pushyamitra Sabha, Bhashya 1-177


King and 8 Ministries in Vedic Period | Tamil and Vedas › 2013/05/27 › king-and-8-ministri…

27 May 2013 — Coronation and Consecration · Eight Ministers for Tamil Kings · Ashta Pradhan of Veera Shivaji · Council of Eight Poets: Ashta Diggajas.

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11 May 2015 — Rig Veda mentioned female members of the Sabha as sabhavati (RV 1-167-3). … Later literature gives us information about Council of Five and …


tags – one member, cabinet, Six Eyes, Panini, Kautilya