Writer: Kathiresan Ramachanderam
Warfare is the art of deception. Therefore, if able, appear unable, if active, appear not active, if near, appear far, if far, appear near. If they have the advantage, entice them; if they are confused, take them, if they are substantial, prepare for them, if they are strong, avoid them, if they are angry, disturb them, if they are humble, make them haughty, if they are relaxed, toil them, if they are united, separate them. Attack when they are not prepared, go out to where they do not expect. Generally, in warfare, keeping a nation intact is best, destroying a nation second best; keeping an army intact is best, destroying an army second best; keeping a battalion intact is best, destroying a battalion second best; keeping a company intact is best, destroying a company second best; keeping a squad intact is best, destroying a squad second best. Therefore, to gain a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; to subjugate the enemy’s army without doing battle is the highest of excellence. Therefore, the best warfare strategy is to attack the enemies plans, next is to attack alliances, next is to attack the army, and the worst is to attack a walled city. Laying siege to a city is only done when other options are not available. To build large protective shields, armored wagons, and make ready the necessary arms and equipment will require at least three months. To build earthen mounds against the walls will require another three months. If the general cannot control his temper and sends troops to swarm the walls, one third of them will be killed, and the city will still not be taken. This is the kind of calamity that befall an army when laying siege to a walled city. Therefore, one who is skilled in the principles of warfare subdues the enemy without doing battle, takes the enemy’s walled city without attacking, and overthrows the enemy quickly, without protracted warfare. His aim must be to take all intact. Therefore, weapons will not be blunted, and gains will be intact. These are the principles of planning attacks. Generally in warfare: If ten times the enemy’s strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, divide them; if equal, be able to fight them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them. Therefore, a smaller army that is inflexible will be captured by a larger one. A general is the safeguard of the nation. When this support is in place, the nation will certainly be strong. When this support is not in place, the nation will certainly not be strong. There are two ways the ruler can bring difficulty to the army: To order an advance when not realizing the army is in no position to advance, or to order a withdrawal when not realizing the army is in no position to withdraw. This is called entangling the army. By not knowing the army’s matters, and administering the army the same as administering civil matters, the officers and troops will be confused. By not knowing the army’s calculations, and taking command of the army, the officers and troops will be hesitant. When the army is confused and hesitant, the neighboring rulers will take advantage. This is called a confused and hesitant army leading another to victory. Therefore, there are five factors of knowing who will win: One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious; one who knows how to use both large and small forces will be victorious; one who knows how to unite upper and lower ranks in purpose will be victorious; one who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious; one whose general is able and is not interfered by the ruler will be victorious. These five factors are the way to know who will win. Therefore I say: One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win, sometimes lose. One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle. Encampment is on a site declared to be the best according to the science of buildings, the leader, the carpenter and the astrologer should measure a circular, rectangular, or square spot for the camp which should, in accordance with the available space, consist of four gates, six roads, and nine divisions. Provided with ditches, parapets, walls, doors, and watch towers for defense against fear, the quarters of the king, 1,000 bows long and half as broad, should be situated in one of the nine divisions to the north from the centre, while to the west of it his harem, and at its extremity the army of the harem are to be situated. In his front, the place for worshipping gods; to his right the departments of finance and accounts; and to his left the quarters of elephants and horses mounted by the king himself. Outside this and at a distance of 100 bows from each other, there should be fixed four cart-poles pillars and walls. In the first (of these four divisions), the prime minister and the priest (should have their quarters); to its right the store-house and the kitchen: to its left the store of raw products and weapons; in the second division the quarters of the hereditary army and of horses and chariots: outside this, hunters and keepers of dogs with their trumpets and with fire; also spies and sentinels; also, to prevent the attack of enemies, wells, mounds and thorns should be arranged. The eighteen divisions of sentinels employed for the purpose of securing the safety of the king should be changing their watches in turn. In order to ascertain the movements of spies, a time-table of business should also be prepared during the day. Disputes, drinking, social gatherings, and gambling should also be prohibited. The system of passports should also be observed. The officer in charge of the boundary (of the camp) should supervise the conduct of the commander-in-chief and the observance of the instructions given to the army. The instructor with his retinue and with carpenters and free laborers should carefully march in front on the road, and should dig wells of water. Having prepared a list of the villages and forests situated on the road with reference to their capacity to supply grass, firewood and water, the march of the army should be regulated according to the program of short and long halts. Food and provisions should be carried in double the quantity that may be required in any emergency. In the absence of separate means to carry food, the army itself should be entrusted with the business of carrying them; or they may be stored in a central place. In front the leader; in the centre the harem and the master (the king); on the sides horses and bodyguards; at the extremity of the (marching) circular-array, elephants and the surplus army; on all sides the army habituated to forest-life; and other troops following the camp, the commissariat, the army of an ally, and his followers should select their own road: for armies who have secured suitable positions will prove superior in fight to those who are in bad positions. The army of the lowest quality can march a 5 5/44 miles a day; that of the middle quality and a half and the best army double that. Hence, it is easy to ascertain the rate of the march. The commander should march behind and put up his camp in the front. In case of any obstruction, the army should march in crocodile array in the front, in cart-like array behind, and on the sides in diamond-like array (i.e., in four or five rows, each having its front, rear and sides) and in a compact array on all sides. When the army is marching on a path passable by a single man, it should march in pin-like array. When peace is made with one and war is to be waged with another, steps should be taken to protect the friends who are bringing help against enemies, such as an enemy in the rear, his ally, a king, or a neutral king. Roads with obstructions should be examined and cleared. Finance, the army, the strength of the armies of friends, enemies, and wild tribes, the prospect of rains, and the seasons should be thoroughly examined. When the protective power of fortifications and stores (of the enemies) is on its decay, when it is thought that distress of the hired army or of a friend’s army (of the enemy) is impending; when intriguers are not for a quick march; or when the enemy is likely to come to terms (with the invader), slow march should be made; otherwise quick march should be made. Waters may be crossed by means of elephants, planks spread over pillars erected, bridges, boats, timber and mass of bamboos, as well as by means of dry sour gourds, big baskets covered with skins, rafts. When the crossing of a river is obstructed by the enemy, the invader may cross it elsewhere together with his elephants and horses, and entangle the enemy in an ambuscade. He should protect his army when it has to pass a long desert without water; when it is without grass, firewood and water; when it has to traverse a difficult road; when it is harassed by an enemy’s attacks; when it is suffering from hunger and thirst after a journey; when it is ascending or descending a mountainous country full of mire, water-pools, rivers and cataracts; when it finds itself crowded in a narrow and difficult path; when it is halting, starting or eating; when it is tired from a long march; when it is sleepy; when it is suffering from a disease, pestilence or famine; when a great portion of its infantry, cavalry and elephants is diseased; when it is not sufficiently strong; or when it is under troubles. He should destroy the enemy’s army under such circumstances. When the enemy’s army is marching through a path traversable by a single man, the commander (of the invader’s army) should ascertain its strength by estimating the quantity of food-stuffs, grass, bedding, and other requisites, fire pots, flags and weapons. He should also conceal those of his own army. Keeping a mountainous or river fortress with all its resources at his back in his own country he should fight or put up his camp. He who is possessed of a strong army, who has succeeded in his intrigues, and who has applied remedies against dangers may undertake an open fight, if he has secured a position favorable to himself; otherwise a treacherous fight. He should strike the enemy when the latter’s army is under troubles or is furiously attacked; or he who has secured a favorable position may strike the enemy entangled in an unfavorable position. Or he who possesses control over the elements of his own state may, through the aid of the enemy’s traitors, enemies and inimical wild tribes, make a false impression of his own defeat on the mind of the enemy who is entrenched in a favorable position, and having thus dragged the enemy into an unfavorable position, he may strike the latter. When the enemy’s army is in a compact body, he should break it by means of his elephants; when the enemy has come down from its favorable position, following the false impression of the invader’s defeat, the invader may turn back and strike the enemy’s army, broken or unbroken. Having struck the front of the enemy’s army, he may strike it again by means of his elephants and horses when it has shown its back and is running away. When frontal attack is unfavorable, he should strike it from behind; when attack on the rear is unfavorable, he should strike it in front; when attack on one side is unfavorable, he should strike it on the other. Or having caused the enemy to fight with his own army of traitors, enemies and wild tribes, the invader should with his fresh army strike the enemy when tired. Or having through the aid of the army of traitors given to the enemy the impression of defeat, the invader with full confidence in his own strength may allure and strike the over-confident enemy. Or the invader, if he is vigilant, may strike the careless enemy when the latter is deluded with the thought that the invader’s merchants, camp and carriers have been destroyed. Or having made his strong force look like a weak force, he may strike the enemy’s brave men when falling against him. Or having captured the enemy’s cattle or having destroyed the enemy’s dogs, he may induce the enemy’s brave men to come out and may slay them. Or having made the enemy’s men sleepless by harassing them at night, he may strike them during the day, when they are weary from want of sleep and are parched by heat, himself being under the shade. Or with his army of elephants enshrouded with cotton and leather dress, he may offer a night-battle to his enemy. Or he may strike the enemy’s men during the afternoon when they are tired by making preparations during the forenoon; or he may strike the whole of the enemy’s army when it is facing the sun. A desert, a dangerous spot, marshy places, mountains, valleys, uneven boats, cows, cart-like array of the army, mist, and night are temptations alluring the enemy against the invader. The beginning of an attack is the time for treacherous fights. As to an open or fair fight, a virtuous king should call his army together, and, specifying the place and time of battle, address them thus: “I am a paid servant like yourselves; this country is to be enjoyed (by me) together with you; you have to strike the enemy specified by me.” His minister and priest should encourage the army by saying thus:– “It is declared in the bibles that the goal which is reached by sacrifices after performing the final ablutions in sacrifices in which the priests have been duly paid for is the very goal which brave men are destined to attain.” About this there are the two verses– Beyond those places which priests, desirous of getting into heaven, attain together with their sacrificial instruments by performing a number of sacrifices, or by practicing penance are the places which brave men, losing life in good battles, are destined to attain immediately. Let not a new vessel filled with water, consecrated and covered over with grass be the acquisition of that man who does not fight in return for the subsistence received by him from his master, and who is therefore destined to go to hell. Astrologers and other followers of the king should infuse spirit into his army by pointing out the impregnable nature of the array of his army, his power to associate with gods, and his omniscience; and they should at the same time frighten the enemy. The day before the battle, the king should fast and lie down on his chariot with weapons. He should also make oblations into the fire pronouncing the verses of the war god, and cause prayers to be offered for the good of the victors as well as of those who attain to heaven by dying in the battle-field. He should also submit his person to priests; he should make the central portion of his army consist of such men as are noted for their bravery, skill, high birth, and loyalty and as are not displeased with the rewards and honors bestowed on them. The place that is to be occupied by the king is that portion of the army which is composed of his father, sons, brothers, and other men, skilled in using weapons, and having no flags and head-dress. He should mount an elephant or a chariot, if the army consists mostly of horses; or he may mount that kind of animal, of which the army is mostly composed or which is the most skillfully trained. One who is disguised like the king should attend to the work of arraying the army. Soothsayers and court bards should describe heaven as the goal for the brave and hell for the timid; and also extol the birth, corporation, family, deeds, and character of his men. The followers of the priest should proclaim the auspicious aspects of the witchcraft performed. Spies, carpenters and astrologers should also declare the success of their own operations and the failure of those of the enemy. After having pleased the army with rewards and honors, the commander-in-chief should address it and say:– A hundred thousand for slaying the king (the enemy); fifty thousand for slaying the commander-in-chief, and the heir-apparent; ten thousand for slaying the chief of the brave; five thousand for destroying an elephant, or a chariot; a thousand for killing a horse, a hundred for slaying the chief of the infantry; twenty for bringing a head; and twice the pay in addition to whatever is seized. This information should be made known to the leaders of every group of ten (men). Physicians with surgical instruments, machines, remedial oils, and cloth in their hands; and women with prepared food and beverage should stand behind, uttering encouraging words to fighting men. The army should be arrayed on a favorable position, facing other than the south quarter, with its back turned to the sun, and capable to rush as it stands. If the array is made on an unfavorable spot, horses should be run. If the army arrayed on an unfavorable position is confined or is made to run away from it (by the enemy), it will be subjugated either as standing or running away; otherwise it will conquer the enemy when standing or running away. The even, uneven, and complex nature of the ground in the front or on the sides or in the rear should be examined. On an even site, staff-like or circular array should be made; and on an uneven ground, arrays of compact movement or of detached bodies should be made. Having broken the whole army (of the enemy), (the invader) should seek for peace; if the armies are of equal strength, he should make peace when requested for it; and if the enemy’s army is inferior, he should attempt to destroy it, but not that which has secured a favorable position and is reckless of life. When a broken army, reckless of life, resumes its attack, its fury becomes irresistible; hence he should not harass a broken army (of the enemy). Favorable positions for infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants are desirable both for war and camp. For men who are trained to fight in desert tracts, forests, valleys, or plains, and for those who are trained to fight from ditches or heights, during the day or night, and for elephants which are bred in countries with rivers, mountains, marshy lands, or lakes, as well as for horses, such battlefields as they would find suitable (are to be secured). That which is even, splendidly firm, free from mounds and pits made by wheels and foot-prints of beasts, not offering obstructions to the axle, free from trees, plants, creepers and trunks of trees, not wet, and free from pits, ant-hills, sand, and thorns is the ground for chariots. For elephants, horses and men, even or uneven grounds are good, either for war or for camp. That which contains small stones, trees and pits that can be jumped over and which is almost free from thorns is the ground for horses. That which contains big stones, dry or green trees and ant-hills is the ground for the infantry. That which is uneven with assailable hills and valleys, which has trees that can be pulled down and plants that can be torn, and which is full of muddy soil free from thorns is the ground for elephants. That which is free from thorns, not very uneven, but very expansive, is an excellent ground for the infantry. That which is doubly expansive, free from mud, water and roots of trees and which is devoid of piercing gravel is an excellent ground for horses. That which possesses dust, muddy soil, water, grass and weeds, and which is free from thorns (known as dog’s teeth) and obstructions from the branches of big trees is an excellent ground for elephants. That which contains lakes, which is free from mounds and wet lands, and which affords space for turning is an excellent ground for chariots. Positions suitable for all the constituents of the army have been treated of. This explains the nature of the ground which is fit for the camp or battle of all kinds of the army. Concentration on occupied positions, in camps and forests; holding the ropes (of beasts and other things) while crossing the rivers or when the wind is blowing hard; destruction or protection of the commissariat and of troops arriving afresh; supervision of the discipline of the army; lengthening the line of the army; protecting the sides of the army; first attack; dispersion (of the enemy’s army); trampling it down; defense; seizing; letting it out; causing the army to take a different direction; carrying the treasury and the princes; falling against the rear of the enemy; chasing the timid; pursuit; and concentration–these constitute the work of horses. Marching in the front; preparing the roads, camping grounds and path for bringing water; protecting the sides; firm standing, fording and entering into water while crossing pools of water and ascending from them; forced entrance into impregnable places; setting or quenching the fire; the subjugation of one of the four constituents of the army; gathering the dispersed army; breaking a compact army; protection against dangers; trampling down (the enemy’s army); frightening and driving it; magnificence; seizing; abandoning; destruction of walls, gates and towers; and carrying the treasury–these constitute the work of elephants. Protection of the army; repelling the attack made by all the four constituents of the enemy’s army; seizing and abandoning (positions) during the time of battle; gathering a dispersed army; breaking the compact array of the enemy’s army; frightening it; magnificence; and fearful noise–these constitute the work of chariots. Always carrying the weapons to all places; and fighting–these constitute the work of the infantry. The examination of camps, roads, bridges, wells and rivers; carrying the machines, weapons, amours, instruments and provisions; carrying away the men that are knocked down, along with their weapons and amours—these constitute the work of free laborers. The king who has a small number of horses may combine bulls with horses; likewise when he is deficient in elephants, he may fill up the centre of his army with mules, camels and carts. Having fortified a camp at the distance of five hundred bows he should begin to fight. Having detached the flower of the army and kept it on a favorable position not visible (to the enemy), the commander-in-chief and the leader should array the rest of the army. The infantry should be arrayed such that the space between any two men; cavalry with three; chariots with four; and elephants with twice or thrice as much space (as between any two chariots). With such an array free to move and having no confusion, one should fight. A bow means five. Archers should be stationed at the distance of five bows (from one line to another); the cavalry at the distance of three bows; and chariots or elephants at the distance of five bows. The intervening space between wings, flanks and front of the army should be five bows. There must be three men to oppose a horse; fifteen men or five horses to oppose a chariot or an elephant; and as many (fifteen) servants for a horse, a chariot and an elephant should be maintained. Three groups of three chariots each should be stationed in front; the same number on the two flanks and the two wings. Thus, in an array of chariots, the number of chariots amounts to forty-five, two hundred and twenty-five horses, six hundred and seventy-five men, and as many servants to attend upon the horses, chariots and elephants–this is called an even array of troops. The number of chariots in this array (of three groups of three chariots each) may be increased by two and two till the increased number amounts to twenty-one. Thus, this array of odd numbers of chariots gives rise to ten odd varieties. Thus the surplus of the army may therefore be distributed in the above manner. Two-thirds of the (surplus) chariots may be added to the flanks and the wings, the rest being put in front. Thus the added surplus of chariots should be one-third less (than the number added to the flanks and wings). This explains the distribution of surplus elephants and horses. As many horses, chariots, and elephants may be added as occasion no confusion in fighting. Excess of the army is called surplus); deficiency in infantry is called absence of surplus; excess of any one of the four constituents of the army is akin to surplus; excess of traitors is far from surplus; in accordance with one’s own resources, one should increase one’s army from four to eight times the excess of the enemy’s army or the deficiency in the enemy’s infantry. The array of elephants is explained by the array of chariots. An array of elephants, chariots, and horses mixed together may also be made: at the extremities of the circle (array), elephants; and on the flanks, horses and principal chariots. The array in which the front is occupied by elephants, the flanks by chariots, and the wings by horses is an array which can break the centre of the enemy’s army; the reverse of this can harass the extremities of the enemy’s army. An array of elephants may also be made: the front by such elephants as are trained for war; the flanks by such as are trained for riding; and the wings by rogue elephants. In an array of horses, the front by horses with mail amour; and the flanks and wings by horses without amour. In an array of infantry, men dressed in mail amour in front, archers in the rear, and men without amour on the wings; or horses on the wings, elephants on the flanks, and chariots in front; other changes may also be made so as to oppose the enemy’s army successfully. The best army is that which consists of strong infantry and of such elephants and horses as are noted for their breed, birth, strength, youth, and vitality, capacity to run even in old age, fury, skill, firmness, magnanimity, obedience, and good habits. One-third of the best of infantry, cavalry and elephants should be kept in front; two-thirds on both the flanks and wings; the array of the army according to the strength of its constituents is in the direct order; that which is arrayed mixing one-third of strong and weak troops is in the reverse order. Thus, one should know all the varieties of arraying the array. Having stationed the weak troops at the extremities, one would be liable to the force of the enemy’s onslaught. Having stationed the flower of the army in front, one should make the wings equally strong. One-third of the best in the rear and weak troops in the centre–this array are able to resist the enemy; having made an array, he should strike the enemy with one or two of the divisions on the wings, flanks, and front, and capture the enemy by means of the rest of the troops. When the enemy’s force is weak, with few horses and elephants, and is contaminated with the intrigue of treacherous ministers, the conqueror should strike it with most of his best troops. He should increase the numerical strength of that constituent of the army which is physically weak. He should array his troops on that side on which the enemy is weak or from which danger is apprehended. Running against; running round; running beyond; running back; disturbing the enemy’s halt; gathering the troops; curving, circling, miscellaneous operations; removal of the rear; pursuit of the line from the front, flanks and rear; protection of the broken army; and falling upon the broken army–these are the forms of waging war with horses. The same varieties with the exception of (what is called) miscellaneous operations; the destruction of the four constituents of the army, either single or combined; the dispersion of the flanks, wings and front trampling down; and attacking the army when it is asleep–these are the varieties of waging war with elephants. The same varieties with the exception of disturbing the enemy’s halt; running against; running back; and fighting from where it stands on its own ground–these are the varieties of waging war with chariots. Striking in all places and at all times and striking by surprise are varieties of waging war with infantry. In this way, he should make odd or even arrays, keeping the strength of the four constituents of the army equal. Having gone to a distance of 200 bows, the king should take his position together with the reserve of his army; and without a reserve, he should never attempt to fight, for it is by the reserved force that dispersed troops are collected together. Wings and front, capable to turn (against an enemy is what is called) a snake-like array; the two wings, the two flanks, the front and the reserve (form an array) according to the school. The principal forms of the array of the army, such as that like a staff, like a snake, like a circle, and in detached order, are varieties of the above two forms of the array consisting of wings, flanks and front. Stationing the army so as to stand abreast is called a staff-like array. Stationing the army in a line so that one may follow the other is called a snake-like array. Stationing the army so as to face all the directions is called a circle-like array. Detached arrangement of the army into small bodies so as to enable each to act for itself is termed an array in detached order. That which is of equal strength on its wings, flanks and front, is a staff-like array. The same array is called breaking the enemy’s array, when its flanks are made to project in front. The same is called firm when its wings and flanks are stretched back. The same is called irresistible when its wings are lengthened. When, having formed the wings, the front is made to bulge out; it is called an eagle-like array. The same four varieties are called “a bow,” “the centre of a bow,” “a hold,” and “a strong hold,” when they are arranged in a reverse form. That, of which the wings are arrayed like a bow, is called victory. The same with projected front is called conqueror; that which has its flanks and wings formed like a staff is called big ear; the same with its front made twice as strong as the conqueror, is called vast victory; that which has its wings stretched forward is called face of the army; and the same is called face of the fish when it is arrayed in the reverse form. The staff-like array in which one (constituent of the army) is made to stand behind the other is called a pin-like array. When this array consists of two such lines, it is called an aggregate; and when of four lines, it is called an invincible array–these are the varieties of the staff-like array. The snake-like array in which the wings, flanks and front are of unequal depth is called serpentine movement. When it consists of two lines in front and has its wings arranged as in the staff-like array, it is called a cart-like array; the reverse of this is called a crocodile-like array; the cart-like array which consists of elephants, horses and chariots is called cart –these are the varieties of the snake-like array. The circle-like array in which the distinction of wings, flanks and front is lost is called facing all directions, or all auspicious, one of eight divisions, or victory–these are the varieties of the circle-like array. That, of which the wings, flanks and front are stationed apart is called an array in detached order; when five divisions of the army are arranged in detached order, it is called diamond, or alligator; when four divisions, it is called park, or crow’s foot; when three divisions, it is called half-moon,–these are the varieties of the array in detached-order. The array in which chariots form the front, elephants the wings, and horses the rear, is called auspicious. The array in which infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants stand one behind the other is called immovable. The array in which elephants, horses, chariot and infantry stand in order one behind the other is called invincible. Of these, the conqueror should assail the breaking of the enemies’ army by means of the firm; firm by means of the irresistible; eagle-like array by means of an array like a bow; a hold by means of a strong-hold; victory by means of conqueror; big ear by means of vast victory; cart by means of all auspicious. Of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants, he should strike the first-mentioned with that which is subsequently mentioned; and a small constituent of the army with a big one. For every ten members of each of the constituents of the army, there must be one commander, called commander; ten commanders under a general; ten generals under a leader. The constituents of the array of the army should be called after the names of trumpet sounds, flags and ensigns. Achievement of success in arranging the constituents of the army, in gathering the forces, in camping, in marching, in turning back, in making onslaughts, and in the array of equal strength depends upon the place and time of action. By the display of the army, by secret contrivances, by fiery spies employed to strike the enemy engaged otherwise, by witch-craft, by proclaiming the conqueror’s association with gods, by carts, by the ornaments of elephants; By inciting traitors, by herds of cattle, by setting fire to the camp, by destroying the wings and the rear of the enemy’s army, by sowing the seeds of dissension through the agency of men under the guise of servants; Or by telling the enemy that his fort was burnt, stormed, or that some one of his family, or an enemy or a wild chief rose in rebellion–by these and other means the conqueror should cause excitement to the enemy. The arrow shot by an archer may or may not kill a single man; but skilful intrigue devised by wise men can kill even those who are in the womb. By this means I have crushed, destroyed, mangled and decapitated many an army.